Protecting your children during a pandemic.

Brother and Sister playing together.

Signing over temporary custody isn’t that hard to do, and it can protect your children in situations when you are unavailable to provide for their care. For example, here are some of the scenarios when a single parent might need to assign a temporary legal guardian:

  • Thomas is a single dad who travels for work. Because her ex is not involved in the kids’ lives, he needs to sign over temporary custody to his ex’s parents when he knows he’ll be on the road for extended periods of time.
  • Larissa is a military single parent serving in the U.S. Army. When she is deployed, she designates a temporary legal guardian for her kids in order to provide for their care while she’s out of the country.
  • Megan is in recovery from drug addiction and has temporarily assigned custody to his parents until he finds a job and gets back on his feet.

These represent just a few examples. While it’s never an easy decision, it’s important to know how to sign over temporary custody in the event that it becomes necessary. And fortunately, the process isn’t all that difficult. In fact, the bigger challenge is deciding who to ask for help!

Who Will Take Care of Your Children?

When deciding whom to make your children’s temporary guardian, consider the following:

  • Your kids’ ages and needs. Younger children will likely need more attention and care. Yet, it’s important to know that teenagers may face different struggles during a temporary parental absence. Spend some time thinking about your kids’ personalities, how they’re likely to respond, and who is best suited to their specific needs.
  • The experience of the relative or friend to whom you may assign temporary guardianship. The obvious answer might be to look for a fellow parent. But you don’t need to exclude friends and relatives who have not yet had children. While choosing a guardian who has kids at home may be a comfort, what’s even more important is their willingness to give your kids’ the care and attention they need!
  • The potential living arrangements. Sleeping on the couch for a weekend is no big deal, but if you anticipate needing to assign temporary custody for an extended period of time, you’ll want to choose someone who has enough space to reasonably accommodate your children.

Reasons for Signing Over Temporary Custody

If you’re planning to be gone only for a few nights, you may wonder whether officially signing over temporary custody is really necessary. Technically, it’s not. However, there are some significant advantages to establishing temporary guardianship with someone you trust.

  • Formally assigning a temporary guardian will help to prevent any potential conflicts over who is in charge of taking care of your children while you are gone.
  • Officially making someone a temporary guardian may allow him or her to more quickly approve medical treatment, if necessary, should your children become ill or injured in your absence.
  • You can also set limits on how long she will be their temporary guardian.

How to Give Temporary Guardianship

You can make a relative or trusted friend a temporary guardian with these steps:

  1. Print a temporary guardianship form.
  2. Fill it out completely.
  3. Have the temporary guardianship form notarized. This essential step assures anyone receiving the form (such as medical personnel) that it is indeed your signature on the form.

Avoiding Conflicts

Finally, if your ex is actively involved in your kids’ lives, which in most cases they are not you’ll want to make sure he or she knows that you are assigning temporary guardianship. Some child custody agreements stipulate that the other parent has ‘first right of refusal’ in situations where a secondary caregiver (even a babysitter) is needed. So you’ll want to read your custody agreement carefully and consider speaking with a lawyer.

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